This heritage trail covers sites associated with late-Mughal period and landmarks of the uprising of 1857. We began at Nicholson’s cemetery and spent some time sauntering around, looking at the interesting gravestones. Some are indeed beautifully carved. The cemetery is named after Brigadier Gen. John Nicholson who is one of the heroes of the 1857 rebellion for the British. He was fatally injured when the British forces were trying to enter the walled city of Shahjahanabad (where the rebels had set up base). The cemetery also has Master Ramachandra’s grave. He is one of the most well known scholars associated with the Delhi College which is presently the Zakir Hussain College in Delhi University. Master Ramachandra was a professor of Mathematics and is associated with what is called the ‘Delhi Renaissance’, a period of great cultural activity in Delhi. Our heritage walk covered the neighbourhood of Kashmiri gate, which gets its name from a gateway of the Shahjahanabad. Kashmiri Gate, one of the most important landmarks of 1857 in Delhi, is easily missed by people in its neighbourhood. The area also has some city walls, parts of which are still visible around the ISBT. As we walk south from Kashmiri Gate, we enter the area which would have seen the most bitter fighting in 1857. Before the rebellion this area had houses of European families. Back in the 17th century, this area had houses of some of the most important noblemen at Shahjahan’s court, including his son, Dara Shukoh. Later this estate was purchased by and Indian merchant, Lala Sultan Singh. If we look carefully between the numerous shop hoardings, we can still see some traces of colonial architecture in the building. The market also has the Lal Masjid, old Hindu college and old Stephen’s college adjacent to it. The next stop on our heritage walk was St. James Church, the oldest church in Delhi. Built by James Skinner, this is a well maintained building and an active place of worship. There are several plaques on the church building naming martyrs of 1857. The churchyard also has graves of William Fraser, James Skinner and Skinner’s family burial ground. Next stop was the Dara Shukoh’s library and British Residency in the Ambedkar University campus. It is said that the estate originally belonged to Mughal prince, Dara Shukoh, and later in the 19th century, it was given to the East India Company official, David Ochterlony who was Resident at the Mughal court. Ochterlony built his house on the remains of Dara Shukoh’s library and if we walk around the British Residency, we can see some work on red sandstone which might be remains of the library. Just outside the campus is the Telegraph Memorial and remains of British Magazine. Both these are extremely important memorials for the British. A little ahead, at Koriya Pul is the Lothian Road Cemetery, the oldest British cemetery. The cemetery was badly damaged, with gravestones and inscriptions all gone, but is currently undergoing restoration work.
(posted by Kanika Singh & Kavita Singh, team members, Delhi Heritage Walks)